ACORN Partners in Education developed this Naturalist Guide to complement its environmental education programs on the Point Arena-Stornetta Lands. ACORN Partners in Education is a Point Arena-based nonprofit that facilitates youth stewardship projects through its Students Protecting the Coast program. The Point Arena-Stornetta Lands is a great outdoor science classroom where students can learn about local endangered species, habitat, and conservation. The bluff top trail is also a gateway for students to learn about marine protected areas off the coast.
In 2014, President Obama signed the Presidential Proclamation designating the Point Arena-Stornetta Lands as the first onshore part of the California Coastal National Monument. It was the culmination of a decade-long campaign by community members who wanted to protect the unique land and provide public access to hiking trails in an area full of privately owned open spaces. The Bureau of Land Management’s Ukiah Field Office administers the land, which covers 1,665 acres, has eight miles of user created trails, goes from the bluffs above Arena Cove to the Lighthouse, crosses over the mouth of the Garcia River, and covers a swathe of Manchester Beach. It’s a wild part of California where coyotes scramble down cliffs to steal cormorant eggs, and great blue herons switch between hunting for gophers up on the coastal prairie to fishing for hermit crabs down in the intertidal zone.
The Point Arena-Stornetta Lands blufftop trail provides a gateway to the marine protected areas off the coast. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are designed to protect critical ocean habitats and species by prohibiting or restricting the take of marine resources, both living and non-living. California’s 124 MPAs protect a wide variety of key habitats in the ocean and estuaries, forming a network across the state. The California MPA Network includes sheltered estuaries to rocky intertidal areas and lush kelp forests. The three Point Arena MPAs, Point Arena State Marine Reserve, Pont Arena State Marine Conservation Area and Sea Lion Cove State Marine Conservation Area, are rich in marine resources. More than 250 species of invertebrates and numerous fish, seabirds, and marine mammals call this area their home. The MPAs support thriving species while also helping to restore endangered or threatened marine life.